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SCIENCE & TECH: How Etsy bet on NYC against fast fashion — and won

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In an era of cheap, soulless fast fashion and drop-shipping, Brooklyn-based Etsy is doubling down on the idea that customers want unique, bespoke products created by actual humans.

Earlier this week the company announced new rules that aim to increase transparency about where items come from, keep junk off the platform and ensure that everything on there is made by real humans.

It’s a bold move at a time when e-commerce giants such as Walmart and Amazon are competing to slash prices and offer faster shipping, while Chinese companies such as Temu and Shein are on the rise.

Raina Moskowitz joined Etsy as chief operating officer in 2018. In 2024, she took on the role of chief marketing officer as well. EMMY PARK

“We’re really looking to further differentiate as opposed to … competing,” said Etsy’s chief marketing officer and chief operating officer Raina Moskowitz.

Savvy customers increasingly see a value in Etsy’s distinct offerings, even if they have to wait three to seven business days to get them in the mail.

In 2023, some 92 million buyers shelled out $13.2 billion on the platform, taking the company’s annual revenue to a record $2.7 billion.

Etsy’s 200,000-square-foot office in Dumbo is decorated with items purchased from sellers on the website. EMMY PARK

“The more people experience these mass-produced, commoditized shopping experiences, the more people are going to crave something different,” Moskowitz told The Post from the company’s Dumbo headquarters. She sat in a walnut wood chair by Macedonian designer Katerina Trpkovska that was decorated with a pillow emblazoned with the phrase “Please leave by 9” from New Hampshire-based Shawna Moore.

Etsy was launched by three friends — Rob Kalin, Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik — out of a Brooklyn apartment in 2005. Their goal was to create a website where craftsman like themselves could sell their unique goods.

Raina Moskowitz poses in Etsy’s closet where the company stores thousands of clothes, pillows, glasses and other accessories EMMY PARK

By 2007, it had sold a million products. When it went public in 2015, it was valued at $1.8 billion — the largest venture capital backed IPO to ever come out of New York City.

In 2016, it moved into its current headquarters, a 200,000-square-foot space filled with light, plants salvaged woods and furniture from Etsy sellers.

Today, it has a market capitalization of $6.7 billion and 2,500 employees, making it the largest tech company in Brooklyn.

Etsy has doubled down on its mission to “keep commerce human” by making sure sellers are all real humans making original creations. keBu.Medien – stock.adobe.com

While Etsy has sellers and buyers from 234 countries around the globe, Moskowitz said that the Big Apple is central to its identity.

“New York is our headquarters, and we’re really proud to be part of the creative scene here and think it actually adds to what makes Etsy so successful,” she said. “So many people want to live and work in New York … we’ve been able to attract top talent who want to be here.”

The Brooklyn ethos — think talented young artisans crafting tastefully on-trend, high quality items — is key.

“It’s a really important part of our culture,” said Moskowitz.

Actress and talk show host Drew Barrymore recently joined Etsy as the chief gifting officer. drewbarrymore/Instagram

As a publicly traded company, it has to balance that philosophy with shareholder hunger for profits. Clever marketing and smart partnerships have been key.

In February, it signed Drew Barrymore on as a chief gifting officer, with the actress-turned-talk show host curating her favorite products on the site.

And, Beyonce gave an organic endorsement last year when she wore a $215 mirror-tiled cowboy hat by seller Abby Mishbin in an ad campaign promoting her Renaissance tour.

The Philadelphia-based Misbin, 25, had to temporarily shut down her Etsy shop after she was inundated with orders. Overnight she went from five or six orders a week to more than 60 in a single day.

Beyonce bought a $215 mirror tile cowboy hat from 25-year-old Etsy creator Abby Misbin, who is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. @Beyonce
After Beyonce wore the hat in an advertising campaign for her Renaissance world tour, Misbin had to temporarily shut down her store since she was overwhelmed with orders. beyonce/Instagram

While some sellers see their products explode in popularity, others have complained Etsy has become inundated with cheaper mass produced goods that get favored by search.

To address such concerns, the company is now requiring all sellers to clearly label how something was created — indicating if it was found in a flea market or hand crafted.

Moskowitz told The Post that such new rules, along with a fresh marketing campaign unveiled earlier this week, are reinvigorating the platform.

Etsy’s new campaign highlights local sellers, like Brooklyn-based Juliana Pache, by putting them on billboards across New York City.

The marketing push — which plasters New York sellers on billboards across the city— is a way to highlight locally crafted goods and show buyers their contributions are valued.



This story is part of NYNext, a new editorial series that highlights New York City innovation across industries, as well as the personalities leading the way.


“Instead of Jennifer Lopez you have Juliana,” Moskowitz said of the decision to put a spotlight on local sellers such as Brooklyn-based Juliana Pache, who makes clay earrings. Etsy is also putting such creators at the top of the website as a way to easily find and shop the creators advertised.

“We want to make it really seamless and easy to find these sellers,” she said.

As the F Train rattled beneath Etsy headquarters, Moskowitz paused.

“We are pretty accustomed in the middle of a meeting to just wait for the honking [to finish] or the subway to pass,” she joked. “But we love it here.”



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